• Guardian, The

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: January 19th, 2016.
    Director: William Friedkin
    Cast: Jenny Seagrove, Dwier Brown, Carey Lowell
    Year: 1990
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    The Movie:

    While horror fans will always think of The Exorcist when it comes to William Friedkin’s filmography, his return to the genre in 1990, The Guardian (based on Dan Greenburg’s novel The Nanny), remains a criminally underrated film. The movie follows Phil (Dwier Brown) and wife Kate (Carey Lowell) as they relocate from Chicago to Los Angeles so that Phil can take a new job at an advertising agency. Soon after they arrive, they find out that Kate is pregnant and months later, out pops Jake, their new little bundle of joy.

    It doesn’t take them long to figure out what most parents learn very quickly – kids are expensive. In order to stay in their house and maintain their standard of living, Kate’s going to have to get a job too. They hire a nanny named Gail (Pamela Brull) but soon after she’s found dead, the unfortunate victim of a freak accident. They replace her with a sex English woman named Camilla Grandier (Jenny Seagrove) who seems to be able to do it all – she doesn’t just watch over Jake but she takes care of the cooking and cleaning as well. She also seems to have a fixation on Phil, something that doesn’t go unnoticed by he or his wife.

    Not too long after Gail has come into their lives, Phil starts to be plagued by intense nightmares involving a mysterious figure clad in a hooded cloak out to harm Jake. There are those who see the connection these dreams have to Gail and try to warn him, but it proves to be too little too late…

    Originally meant to be directed by Sam Raimi (who passed on this project to make Darkman instead), The Guardian hardly set the box office in fire in its theatrical run but it has rightly gained a pretty solid following in the years since it was made. It isn’t Friedkin’s masterpiece but it is a pretty involving film with some fantastic set pieces and a really great feeling of impending doom, the kind that builds slowly throughout the movie toward what is undeniably a pretty unforgettable finale. It’s reasonably strong stuff, a movie that warrants its R-rating thanks to some pretty graphic gore, freaky murder set pieces and bizarre sexual overtones but Friedkin paces it really well and with the film creates some pretty out there imagery. This is, to be blunt, a pretty weird movie – particularly when you figure it was made for a major studio (Universal).

    The motives behind what Gail is up to and the mystery behind her behavior is a bit clunky and maybe worked better on paper than it does on film, but that doesn’t make the picture any less entertaining. The acting is quite solid across the board and even if some of the storylines don’t gel quite as well as we might want them to the movie is never dull. Brown and Lowell are likeable enough as the parents with the latter cast against type as the stronger one in the married couple. Jenny Seagrove has the right mix of sex appeal and quirk to make her right for the part as the nanny with a deep, dark secret and the score, from Jack Hues is also pretty cool. Is it a perfect film? No, but it’s kind of great in its own weird way and definitely something unique in the pantheons of horror film.


    Shout! Factory offers up The Guardian on a 50GB Blu-ray framed at 1.85.1 widescreen in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer that looks pretty gosh darned good. There are a few shots in this movie that are on the soft side to be sure but these are the exception and not the rule. Typically detail is really strong, especially in the close up shots, while color reproduction looks spot on. Black levels are solid and the image is free of any crush in the film’s many darker scenes. There aren’t any compression artifacts nor is there any evidence of obvious noise reduction. A few minor white specks are visible here and there but outside of those tiny blemishes there isn’t much in the way of print damage to note at all. This looks pretty much true to source, fans of the film should be pleased with the transfer as it provides a considerable upgrade from the previous DVD release that came out years ago.

    The audio is handled perfectly well by an English language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track. Dialogue is clean and properly balanced against the score and the sound effects, which have some nice strength behind them. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion, everything sounds fine, the score has impressive depth and everything is properly mixed.

    There’s no commentary here but Shout! Factory have assembled a pretty impressive selection of cast and crew interviews that do a nice job of documenting the history of this particular film. A Happy Coincidence starts things off, it’s a twenty-two minute long interview with actor Dwier Brown who talks about how and why he was cast in the part of Phil, his thoughts on working with a director like Friedkin, how he feels about the horror genre in general and some of the other projects he’s worked on over the years. From Strasberg To The Guardian gets actor Gary Swanson in front of the camera for ten minutes to talk not only about his part as Gary in the film but also his thoughts on Friedkin as a director and, maybe of even more interest to some, his work as Detective Tom Walsh on Gary Sherman’s notorious Vice Squad! Natalija Nogulich talks for twelve minutes in A Mother’s Journey, a featurette wherein she discusses auditioning and winning the part of Molly, her thoughts on Friedkin and her work on Star Trek. Scoring The Guardian gets composer Jack Hues a seven minute spot to cover his thoughts on the movie, what he tried to bring to it with his score and the differences between scoring a film and playing in Wang Chung! Tree Woman: The Effects Of The Guardian gives makeup effects artist Matthew Mungle thirteen minutes in the spotlight to, as you’d guess, talk about what was involved in creating some of the more memorable effects heavy moments in the film and how he was hesitant, as a young effects technician, to work with a high profile director on this early project. Friedkin himself pops up in Return To The Genre, an eighteen minute long interview where he talks about returning to the horror movie arena, his thoughts on the cast and crew, some observations about the picture itself and a fair bit more. Jenny Seagrove talks for fourteen minutes in The Nanny, a featurette that finds her talking about the characters she played in the movie, her thoughts on the film and other career highlights from her filmography. The last featurette is the twenty-one minute long piece Don’t Go Into The Woods where co-writer Stephen Volk opens up about working with Friedkin on the script, his thoughts on the finished product and how some of the characters were portrayed on the screen and a few other projects that he has been involved with over the years.

    Rounding out the extras is a pretty hefty still Gallery of behind-the-scenes photos, a theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    The Guardian is not the horror movie that William Friedkin will be remembered for, but it is a damn fine film in its own right and Shout! Factory have done a really solid job giving this still very intense film an proper Blu-ray release with a great transfer, strong audio and a host of interesting featurettes. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. moviegeek86's Avatar
      moviegeek86 -
      Although I always passed by the VHS in the video store I never watched the film until Scream Factory's blu.

      It was actually pretty damn entertaining and surprisingly gory. I was not expecting that much gore but damn did it deliver the bloodshed.